Tuesday, October 03, 2006

who is my neighbor?

There are several funds set up to help the Amish families with medical costs. Details are at Lancaster Online and Solanco News.

From the New York Times:
In one sign of their approach to tragedy, Amish residents started a charity fund yesterday not only to help the victims’ families but also to help the gunman’s widow. Full Article (Free until its archived.)

And from AP via Yahoo:

Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, spoke at a community prayer service Tuesday evening and said he was at the home of Roberts' father when an Amish neighbor came to comfort the family.

"He stood there for an hour, and he held that man in his arms, and he said, 'We will forgive you,'" Lefever said. "He extended the hope of forgiveness that we all need these days."

The willingness to recognize the widow and her children as victims, too, strikes me profoundly. The comfort given to the father. The specific action that renders aid even in the face of their own tragedy and suffering shows the standard for what it means to walk the walk of Christians. It is so easy for us to become self-centered and throw blame around in the face of tragedy. And yet, we are called to live in a way that shows love to our neighbors and our enemies.

It reminds me of two stories. The first story is attributed to Midrash.

After the Children of Isreal had escaped the Egyptians, crossing on dry land and the Egyptians had been covered with the waters and drowned, a cry of celebration went up from the angels in heaven.

God sent for the Archangel Michael and asked about the cheering. Michael replied the celebration is because your children, the Children of Isreal, have been saved and your enemies the Egyptians have drowned.

God, with tears, replied, "But they are all my children."

I think I originally read the second one in an Anthony de Mello book.

A rabbi asked his students, “When is it at dawn that one can tell the light from the darkness?”

One student replied, “When I can tell a horse from a donkey.”

“No,” answered the rabbi.

Another said, “When I can tell a dog tree from a goat.”

“No,” answered the rabbi again.

Another said, “When I can tell a palm tree from a fig.”

“No,” answered the rabbi again.

“Well, then what is the answer?” his students pressed him.

“Only when you look into the face of every man and every woman and see your brother and your sister,” said the rabbi. “Only then have you seen the light. All else is still darkness.”

I wonder when more of us will recognize our neighbors and act in ways that show it

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